Out-of-Pocket Spending Within 90 Days of Discharge from COVID-19 Hospitalization

medRxiv. 2021 Jun 18;2021.06.11.21258766. doi: 10.1101/2021.06.11.21258766. Preprint

Abstract

Introduction: Millions of U.S. patients have been hospitalized for COVID-19. After discharge, these patients often have extensive health care needs, but out-of-pocket burden for this care is poorly described. We assessed out-of-pocket spending within 90 days of discharge from COVID-19 hospitalization among privately insured and Medicare Advantage patients.

Methods: In May 2021, we conducted a cross-sectional analysis of the IQVIA PharMetrics ® Plus for Academics Database, a national de-identified claims database. Among privately insured and Medicare Advantage patients hospitalized for COVID-19 between March-June 2020, we calculated mean out-of-pocket spending for care within 90 days of discharge. For context, we repeated analyses for patients hospitalized for pneumonia.

Results: Among 1,465 COVID-19 patients included, 516 (35.2%) and 949 (64.8%) were covered by private insurance and Medicare Advantage plans. Among these patients, mean (SD) post-discharge out-of-pocket spending was $534 (1,045) and $680 (1,360); spending exceeded $2,000 for 7.0% and 10.3%. Compared with pneumonia patients, mean post-discharge out-of-pocket spending among COVID-19 patients was higher among the privately insured ($534 vs $445) and lower among Medicare Advantage patients ($680 vs $918).

Conclusions: For the privately insured, post-discharge out-of-pocket spending was higher among patients hospitalized for COVID-19 than among patients hospitalized for pneumonia. The opposite was true for Medicare Advantage patients, potentially because insurer cost-sharing waivers for COVID-19 treatment covered the costs of some post-discharge care, such as COVID-19 readmissions. Nonetheless, given the high volume of U.S. COVID-19 hospitalizations to date, our findings suggest a large number of Americans have experienced substantial financial burden for post-discharge care.

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